Best approach to upgrading my current bike/broken fork


Sep 7, 2005
Since this post is long, I broke it into parts. Skip part 1 if you don't want to waste time.

Part 1: Background

I really want to get into XC mountain biking regularly, but haven't been able to due to some not-so-wonderful circumstances. Last summer, I decided to add some shocks onto my old Cannondale M400 since I couldn't afford a new bike (being a poor college student). I found a good deal on a 2002 Marzocchi Marathon S on ebay and purchased it.

The fork started to leak near the end of the summer, so I called up a guy I found who does bike repairs for cheap (he installed the new fork for $10 + the old stiff fork). After giving him the bike and new seals/oil and waiting a while, he told me that he didn't have any more time to do bike repairs because of his new baby and gave back the bike. All he had done was drain the oil.

Then I decided to do the repair myself. I scoured the internet for instructions on how to replace oil seals. Being a very lucky person, I stumbled across this document on replacing oil seals on a 2002 Marathon S: http://www.enduroforkseals.com/id27.html. I had to purchase some tools for the repair, and by the time I had them, the summer had ended and I didn't have much time or inspiration to work on my bike.

I have been able to borrow my dad's Giant Iguana fairly regularly this summer, and was busy until the middle of August with classes, so I wasn't inspired to fix the fork until recently. Replacing the seals was extremely easy using PVC pipe and a 27mm socket as presses. The problem came when I was re-attaching the foot nuts. I took my brand new torque wrench and set it to the recommended 100 inch pounds. Then I started tightening the nut in the right leg. It became fairly tight, and I was wondering why the torque wrench wasn't clicking like the manual said it would. Suddenly, the wrench became loose. I turned over the fork, and the nut fell out... with the threading in it.

I was definitely an idiot for not testing out the torque wrench beforehand, and an idiot for pressing as hard as I did, but it really wasn't that hard. I've screwed nuts tighter than that.

Part 2:

So, I have a crappy old 1997 Cannondale M400 with a 2002 Marzocchi Marathon S (80mm). The threading on the fork's hydraulic cartridge (right fork leg) is broken off at the base.

I submitted an online request form at marzocchi.com asking what to do about the cartridge. After several days, they gave their office number and said to call it. A few days later I got around to calling. After a short wait, someone asked me who I wanted. I asked for the tech department.

Cue long sound clip of music and the history of Marzocchi.

The tech department guy said that the cartridge was about $120, but he could get me a great deal if I upgraded to a new model. He said that the Marathon SL runs at "$700" but I could get it for "around $380" if I traded in my current fork (MTBR says the 2005 version is worth $625, but I assume he was talking about the 2006). Then he transfered me to sales since I wanted to know the exact price of the hydraulic cartridge.

Cue even longer wait with the now tedious sound clip blaring.

The cartridge was still $120. I didn't ask about the upgrade deal. Goodbye.

Part 3: What the hell should I do?

I have a bit of money to spend, and want to gradually upgrade to a decent XC bike. Obviously, everything I have needs to be replaced, including the frame, but I can't afford that now. I now have about $700 to spend and want to get my bike into working order as quickly as possible. It will probably be several months before I can spend any more.

Is anyone willing to recommend how I should go about upgrading my bike? Obviously the fork needs to be fixed or replaced, but I will still have some cash left over after that. Keep in mind that I've been riding crap up until now, so I can live with keeping any of my current components until I can afford to upgrade them to something decent later on.

Should I go with the trade in deal on the Marathon SL? Assuming it costs ~$420 with shipping and installation (Hopefully Mr. Fixit's baby isn't an issue anymore), I would still have around $300.

What about the Marzocchi MX Comp? How does it compare to the Marathons? It is a lot cheaper, and I could probably also get a good deal on it with the trade in.

Should I just spend $120 on the cartridge to fix my current fork so I have more money for other parts? I don't think this would be smart since the fork is old and probably not even worth that much.

I don't want to go much over $1600 overall, but I could be convinced to spend a bit more.

Sorry for the long post. I hope someone will read it :)


Turbo Monkey
Feb 1, 2002
fix the fork, have someone else do the work, not the guy with the baby, a shop. save the rest, If you are willing to spend almost $1600, go buy a new bike. you could get a really nice hardtail for that or a nice full suspension bike. a 97 bike is pretty old.